Why Do The Labels Continue To Insist That 'Your Money Is No Good Here?'

from the the-internet-has-no-'regions' dept

You'd think that an industry so concerned about piracy would at least get its own house in order before carelessly chucking stones at people who make unavailable music more readily available, usually, without a price tag. This screenshot came across my Facebook feed recently, the frustrated result of Daniel Barassi's (a.k.a. BRAT Productions) attempt to purchase music.

In case you can't see the text the arrow's pointing to, it reads: "Due to copyright restrictions you cannot buy this product in your country."

This rant was attached:
I am so fucking sick of this shit! I am a music lover! I love to buy, and own, music. If I can not buy an actual CD, I buy WAV format, so I can have the best possible quality (fuck mp3/aac). More often than not, when I want to buy something legally, I get this shit. You want illegal downloads to stop? STOP FUCKING PUTTING REGION RESTRICTIONS! Figure out a way to talk to your labels in other regions, make a FUCKING DEAL, AND GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER! There is a globe full of people who want the opportunity to hear new music. Stop selling to only one region! Fix this, and watch. You will you see less piracy. GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR COLLECTIVE ASSES!
Yes. Seriously. W.T.F.

Tell me (and Barassi) why this sort of thing happens. If your answer includes words like "licensing," "rights" or any other explanation of the convoluted system that the labels themselves set up to prevent people from purchasing their music, your answer, while "technically correct," is completely wrong.

What I want you to explain is why, in this day and age, with the internet handling a large quantity of the sales, are labels still attempting to pretend that the purchaser's country makes any difference. Because it just doesn't. The only people who would find this sort of thing acceptable are the legal teams, administrators and royalty-collecting intermediaries who need this sort of relentlessly stupid convolution to maintain their positions.

Let's use a physical analogy because that's just the sort of thing everyone likes to do when dealing with a digital product: If you're a German citizen visiting or living in the US and you stop in at Best Buy to pick up a CD or movie, no one checks your passport to see if you're legally entitled to make this purchase. Or, for that matter, anyone can order a physical CD from anywhere in the world and get it shipped to them. Obviously, it's more expensive but no one stops them from doing it. If it already makes no sense in the physical world, how in all hell do you expect it to work in a world where anyone from anywhere at any time can at least attempt to purchase music or movies?

(If your answer contains anything like "they're purchasing licenses, not songs," go ahead and give yourself an F-.)

You've got so many entities vying over every last digital nickel that they've conspired to keep BRAT from shelling out $6.99 for an EP. That works out to zeroes across the board, much like piracy does, except in this case, you've got someone throwing money at the screen and receiving asinine statements in response. Do you seriously think that telling people "no" repeatedly is a great way to build a business? And what if these people are so determined to purchase your music that they jump through a few hoops in order to appear to be purchasing this album from an "approved" region? How does that play into your tangled web of royalty payouts? Or does it even matter? Is this just some obtuse attempt at control?

Explain. I'm all ears.

(Oh, BTW: before you critics start writing off BRAT as just some "nobody" from the internet who *gasp* occasionally cranks out mashups when not espousing freedtardist views, check out his FAQ. BRAT is also the official webmaster for Depeche Mode, a position he's held since 1998. He also manages their Youtube presence, which includes issuing takedowns on infringing content. So, he's not some Google shill or whatever it is that you imagine those of us that refer to piracy as a "customer service issue" are. And by all means, go and listen to his stuff, which includes official remixes for Depeche Mode, some "mixtapes" and a fine selection of quality mashups. I recommend the Echo & the Bunnymen vs. UNKLE track "Follow Me Down to the Killing Moon," which I hold is actually superior to the originals.)


Filed Under: daniel barassi, infringement, piracy, regional restrictions

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Mar 2012 @ 10:06am

    Re: Re:

    Okay, let's try to explain it (I was going to answer Josh, but he is just angry and feels very entitled, so he can wait).

    Basically, the artist makes the EP. Their record label then has distribution deals for it. Now, most distributors are by country or somethings by region. That is for a lot of reasons, getting back to various restrictions that may exist in different countries, local packaging requirements, etc.

    Sometimes they will sign a "global" distribution deal, usually with one of the very large companies, which will in turn "sub" it in various countries to their local distributors.

    Now, what often happens is that with specialty product, or very narrow market product, the only distribution deal that will get signed will be for the area around the artist. This guy is from Austria, I suspect he has a "euro" distribution deal at most for this EP. That distributor cannot (under the terms of the contract) sell outside of that area. That allows the label / artist to sign other distribution agreements in other places, as they see fit.

    So as an example, if the artist plans to do a US tour in, say, September, they might want to delay the release until near then, so that he can get the most "hit" in the media with it, being available for local interviews on radio, TV, music channels, etc. Releasing the album far ahead of the potential publicity might limit sales.

    It might also be that distributors don't want to take the risk to distribute an album with few potential sales in the market. Preparing it for market, packaging, and actual distribution have some costs (even if you want to sell it digital, placement / shelving fees still do exist), and if the potential sales don't live up to those costs, there is no reason to sign a distribution deal.

    So you have an album that has limited distribution, under a country limited contract.

    Now, the label, because they hold ALL the rights, can sell anywhere they like. They are not going to self-restrict. The risk would be that the product you buy would be either Austrian Market version, a fast knock off with english information, or just a download only version.

    The issues for movies is even more significant, because you have all those issues of rating boards, permits to sell, language, translations, "voice over integral" versions, subtitles, and all that sort of stuff. It's just not as easy to do it legally. Very easy to do when you don't care about the law.

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